BBB honors five organizations for ethicsWritten by Joel Sensenig | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Northwestern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan honored four local businesses and one nonprofit for exemplary and ethical business practices at its annual Torch Awards, held Nov. 5 in Perrysburg.
Winners have demonstrated business practices that exemplify ethics, integrity and exceptional customer service and are chosen by an independent panel of volunteer community leaders, based on criteria established by the BBB, said Mollie Tyrrell, the organization’s director of special projects.
Tyrrell said the BBB received about 100 nominations for this year’s awards. Winners received a trophy created by Toledo glass artist Mike Wallace.
This year’s keynote speaker was Dennis Johnson, a Toledo native and president of Brooks Insurance Agency.
Also revealed at the ceremony were the two winners of the Jim Smythe Memorial Student of Integrity Scholarships, a $500 scholarship awarded to area high school seniors.
For more information or to make a nomination for next year, contact the BBB at (419) 578-6000 or at bbb.org.
Small business: Lay’s Transmission
Lay’s Transmission won in the small business (one to nine employees) category.
The family-owned business has been an industry leader in drive train manufacturing and service in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan since 1956. Owned by Bradley Lay Sr., Lay’s Transmission provides complete drive shaft, differential, rear end and transfer case repairs and rebuilds. It utilizes its on-site machine shop and state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment to get vehicles back on the road as soon as possible.
“This award is huge for us, especially in the automotive transmission business,” Lay said. “There’s a lot of complaints in our industry. But we’re going on 60 years in business and the reason for that longevity is honesty and integrity. A lot of it is what was instilled in me as a kid. My father taught me the Golden Rule, that if you treat someone right they will come back and that’s what we strive to do. I use biblical principles daily in business. I want to do the right thing in every situation and not sacrifice the future for the present.”
The company requires all employees to conduct themselves according to its code of business conduct and ethics, and maintains ties to the community through its support and involvement with 1Matters, Tent City, Food for Thought, YWCA’s Encore Plus program, University of Toledo athletics, holiday food baskets, Race for Hope, Ronald McDonald House, Vets Helping Vets, the Make-a-Wish Foundation and others.
The business is located at 378 Phillips Ave. For more information, call (419) 476-4088 or visit laystransmission.com.
Medium business: Roemer Insurance
Roemer Insurance won in the medium business (10-49 employees) category.
The company was started in 1934 by Wellington F. Roemer with the motto, “He profits most who serves best.” The business remains a family affair, with Wellington’s son, W. Thomas “Tommy” Roemer, serving as vice chairman of the board, and his grandson, Wellington F. “Rocky” Roemer III, serving as president and CEO for the past 20 years.
The 35-employee company maintains a 98 percent client retention rate by maintaining strong communication with a focus on customer service.
The company offers health insurance, vision, dental, life, disability and client services, as well as Medicare for individuals. Among the staff are eight expert health insurance professionals, who assist employers and individuals with personalized health care coverage. Roemer Insurance also offers services for truckers, one of its specialties from its inception. It offers liability insurance for long-haul truckers in the Midwest.
The company puts an emphasis on taking care of its staff, with amenities such as massage days at work, discounts to health clubs and an on-site gym. Roemer is dedicated to the community as well, with employees involved with organizations such as The Rotary Club of Toledo, The Victory Center, YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo and The Ohio State University Alumni Association.
“This is very exciting,” Roemer III said. “We’re a longstanding business in this community and we owe our success to those who came before us. This is really a tribute to all those who have worked so hard over the years for this company.”
The business is located at 3912 Sunforest Court. For more information, call (419) 475-5151 or visit roemer-insurance.com.
Large business: Garner Transportation
Garner Transportation Group won in the large business (50-149 employees) category.
The family-owned and operated business was started by Vernon E. and Regina Garner in 1960 and has been under the direction of their daughter Sherri Garner Brumbaugh as president since 2008.
The company originally focused on transporting agricultural products. Today, it has shifted focus to general commodities, with shipments transported regionally (east of the Mississippi River). More than a trucking company, Garner’s services now include transportation, expediting, warehousing, logistics management, third-party services, contract maintenance and transportation consultation.
“We started with one truck, one driver — that was my dad — and one back office person — that was my mom,” Brumbaugh said.
Today, the company has 100 trucks, 400 trailers and more than 100 employees, she said.
“For my Garner employees and their families, what I work hard at every day is for them to be proud of whom and who they work for,” she said. “Ethical behavior is a very important component of a sound business practice.”
The company’s commitment to the community is evident through its involvement with Hancock Leadership, Findlay Race for the Cure, The Ohio State University Melanoma Research Foundation, University of Findlay and the Humane Society of Hancock County.
The business is located at 9291 County Road 313, in Findlay. For more information, call (419) 422-5742 or visit garnertrucking.com.
Extra-large business: Taylor Automotive Group
Taylor Automotive Group won in the extra-large business (150-plus employees) category.
The family of seven vehicle dealerships — with locations in Toledo, Perrysburg, Findlay and Lima — prides itself on putting customers first.
The business, which formed in 1979, has developed a list of five core values: personal growth and development, attitude, respect, teamwork, and the five Es — energy, enthusiasm and excitement equals more effectiveness and efficiency.
Many sales team members begin their morning by reciting the company’s “Dealer FOR the People Pledge.” The company also asks employees to write personal essays on what its core values mean to them, and potential employees to rate themselves on the five core values on its employment applications.
The dealership’s mantra of “Locally Owned, Locally Committed” is evident by its community involvement and numerous charitable donations. Owner Steve Taylor has implemented the “Driven To Succeed” program, where a new Hyundai vehicle is given to a graduating senior from high schools in Lucas, Hancock and Allen counties, as well as Perrysburg. Further, the automotive group’s “12 Days of Christmas” helps nearly 40 families in need during the holiday season.
“Really this honor is for [my dad],” Taylor said. “What I always learned from him were hard work, ethics and the importance of giving back to the community. It’s something he’s obviously passed on to me. He always said the secret to success is to do the right thing.”
For more information, call (419) 246-5693 or visit taylorauto.com.
Nonprofit: Toledo Fair Housing Center
The Toledo Fair Housing Center won in the nonprofit category.
The nonprofit civil rights agency is dedicated to the elimination of housing discrimination and to the expansion of neighborhood choice for all people. It was established in 1975 by The Women of the Old West End and The League of Women Voters in response to blockbusting and other housing discrimination practices.
The center has investigated more than 11,500 complaints of discrimination, recovering more than $30 million in damages. Its staff has conducted workshops for fair housing organizations, government agencies and housing industry professionals. The center has demonstrated a talent for setting national precedents in the enforcement of fair housing laws, while expanding housing opportunities for millions of Americans.
In 2009, the center was one of four private fair housing organizations in the United States to be featured in the Annual Report on Fair Housing published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Members of the center participate in a variety of community service efforts, including the City of Toledo Department of Neighborhoods’ Community Development Block Grant Spring Sweep Cleanup, Pride Festival, International Festival, United Way Day of Caring, African American Festival, Latino Festival and its sister agency Northwest Ohio Development Agency’s Homeownership Fair.
“We absolutely have to live and work by high standards of ethics if we’re going to hold other entities accountable under fair housing regulations,” said President and CEO Michael Marsh.
The agency is gearing up for its 40th anniversary celebration next year and will be featured in one of WGTE’s “Toledo Stories” documentaries.
For more information, call (419) 243-6163 or visit toledofhc.org.
Toledo Free Press Editor in Chief Sarah Ottney contributed to this report.